Electric car rental: Here’s everything you need to know before booking your vacation rental

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Range, availability of charging stations and cost are all factors that have deterred travelers from booking electric car for their holidays in recent years. But like infrastructure throughout Europe improves, the rental of electric cars could become widespread.

As the number of electric car charging stations continues to grow rapidly in Europe, travel booking site Skyscanner launched an electric car and hybrid car rental filter this month.

The goal is to help climate-conscious travelers find and compare costs on greener rental options across Europe and the United States.

Between 2017 and 2020, the number of charging stations for electric vehicles in Europe more than doubled to just over 285,000, according to Statista. The Netherlands has the largest network of charging stations, followed by Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Norway.

However, only a fraction of the network includes fast chargers (those that can charge an electric car battery at a speed greater than 22kW). And although the number of charging stations in Europe is increasing rapidly, the continent is still far from reaching the 1 million target that the The EU Green Deal aims by 2025.

What are the advantages of renting an electric car on vacation?

Electric cars are often exempt from surcharges in low-emission zones in cities and it can be cheaper or even free to park in many places, according to Martin Nolan, sustainable travel expert at Skyscanner.

“Most electric rental companies also don’t expect you to charge your car before returning it at the end of your trip,” he adds.

Charging stations across Europe are found in motorway services, gas stationsstations, supermarkets and public car parks.

Most rental cars have satellite navigation systems that can help drivers find the nearest charging station, but there are also a number of websites that do similar work, such as:

  • Plugsurf

  • load plan

  • Open the fee map

  • PlugShare

“We expect to see demand for environmentally friendly car rental options increase as more car rental companies expand their ranges of electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient cars, combined with improvements to electric car rental infrastructure and the availability of charging stations,” says Nolan.

Research by Skyscanner in the UK this spring found that one in three Britons would consider hiring an electric car on their next trip abroad this year.

The best places in Europe to rent an electric car on holiday

Some destinations are clearly better than others for renting an electric car, in terms of affordability and availability.

Watch popular summer vacation destinations, Skyscanner has found that the best electric car rental destinations will be in Portugal and Spain this year. One week rental from Lisbon, Portugal, at the end of July costs 310 € against 230 € for a standard car. In Alicante, Spainthe price of a week’s rental is €420 compared to €330 for a standard car.

However, it’s worth shopping around – research from the travel website revealed the biggest price gap in Malagawhere a week’s electric car hire will set you back €745 compared to €285 for a standard car.

The launch of Skyscanner’s electric and hybrid car filter builds on its Greener Choices filter, which allows travelers to search for flights that emit less CO2. Since its introduction in 2019, more than 68 million travelers worldwide using the website have opted for low-emission flights for their itinerary.

Over the past year, one in five flight bookings made through the company have been branded as Greener Choices.

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